Ukraine Leaders Detail Babies Born in Bomb Shelters and Hospital Basements During Invasion

"Under fire and explosions, life is also in full swing and the cries of newborn Ukrainians appear," Ukraine's health minister wrote on social media

toska husted
Photo: Courtesy toska husted

"Life does not stop," or so the adage goes — even amid war.

As Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, many in the country are seeking shelter, leaving some pregnant women hiding out in hospital basements and bomb shelters where their babies are now being welcomed to the world in an increasingly dangerous situation.

One photo — shared by Ukrainian politician and former lawmaker Hanna Hopko to Facebook last week — showed a newborn girl born in a bomb shelter just as Russian troops began to move in to the country.

"Life does not stop," Hopko wrote on Facebook, along with a photo of the baby in her mother's arms. "Hiding in a bomb shelter, a woman in Kyiv gave birth to a baby girl named Mia."

Another Facebook post from a Ukrainian hospital in Luhansk last week detailed how all patients and staff were temporarily evacuated underground as shelling began.

"We were urgently evacuated to the basement together with other patients of the obstetrics and gynecology department. Each patient was provided with a bed with a bed, the basement was equipped with electricity, kerosene lamps and electric generators were prepared for emergencies," the post read.

During the shelling, a patient arrived who needed "urgent gynecological surgery," according to the hospital.

"At the risk of their lives, the doctors left the shelter, performed an emergency operation in the operating room, and then transported the patient to the shelter," hospital officials wrote on social media.

Thanks to a team of nurses, a midwife and an OB-GYN, "everything went well."

"A wonderful boy weighing 3500 g [roughly 8 pounds] was born," the post read.

Viktor Liashko, Ukraine's minister of health, also used social media to share photos of babies he said were born amid the fighting and mothers holding children in cramped quarters.

"On the third day of the war, which was started by the Russian occupiers, under fire and explosions, life is also in full swing and the cries of newborn Ukrainians appear," Liashko wrote last week. "Yesterday in Kherson, under fire, two boys were born in one of the maternity hospitals in the bomb shelter. Two new lives that already have War in their genetic code."

Russia's invasion on Ukraine began on Thursday, with forces moving from the north, south and east.

Details of the attack and the fighting change by the day, but this is the first major land conflict in Europe in decades — and hundreds have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. Thousands more people have fled or tried to escape Ukraine amid warnings of a possible "refugee crisis."

Still others are staying put, seeking shelter underground as Russian troops move in.

"You don't know where to go, where to run, who you have to call," Liliya Marynchak, a 45-year-old teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, told PEOPLE recently of the moment her city was bombed. "This is just panic," she said.

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn widespread condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia. Various countries have also pledged aid or military support to Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has pleaded for peace talks while urging his country to resist.

Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the interest of so-called "peacekeeping."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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